Housed in a monumental building on Hong Kong’s waterfront, the new museum of visual culture is due to open to the public later this year
The building for Hong Kong’s new M+ Museum – dedicated to visual culture of all kinds, including art, architecture and moving image – has completed ahead of its opening later this year. Designed by a global team comprised of Switzerland-based architecture firm Herzog & de Meuron in partnership with Farrells and Arup, M+ lies at the heart of the evolving West Kowloon Cultural District on the city’s Victoria Harbour waterfront.
The architecture consists of two slab-like concrete volumes – a horizontal podium and vertical tower – clad in dark-green ceramic tiles. The south facade of the tower features an LED system for displaying content related to the museum, marking the museum’s presence in the cityscape, especially at night.
Railway tunnels underneath the building presented a challenge during construction, but ultimately shaped the design approach: excavation around the tunnels produced a ‘found space’ that provides an anchor for the building for hosting rotating installations. Five mega-trusses help support the massive structure above and prevent it from bearing down on the tunnels.
The 65,000 sq m building houses 17,000 sq m of exhibition space across 33 galleries. It also includes three cinemas, a Mediatheque, a learning hub, a research centre, museum shops, restaurants, a tea and coffee bar, a members’ lounge, office spaces, and a roof garden.
Most galleries are arranged on a large podium level on the second floor. A lightwell inside the building, created by massive cutaways in the floor plates and the skylights, connects basement floors, the ground floor, and the podium level. Space fit-outs and the installation of works and objects have now commenced, with a view to opening the M+ to the public at the end of 2021.
‘M+ best expresses where we should go as a world culture, where diversity, equality, and access to art of all kinds are expressed from the very beginning,’ says Jacques Herzog, founding partner of Herzog & de Meuron. ‘This kind of diversity and broadness is part of the DNA of M+. This makes it a museum that is very much locally inspired, but at the same time universal and open; it is for the people and visitors across the world.’